Where to start with Volsung? We all know how powerful an LKali effect can be and now we can finally farm one. Unfortunately, he’s much worse than he looks. His debuff makes him incredibly difficult to place on any random team. The team building constraint of dedicating a sub slot to overwrite his debuff is a high cost. He also lacks synergy with the most popular rainbow subs. As a leader, 36x with no other multipliers just doesn’t cut it in today’s endgame. The nail in the coffin is the cost to acquire then skill him up. For the same difficulty you’re almost always better off investing in a Zaerog∞. Before you invest in a Volsung, think long and hard about whether he’s worth it; for most players he isn’t.
|Active||Dragon & Attacker type cards ATK x0.5 for 1 turn. Change all orbs to Fire, Water & Wood & Light & Dark orbs. Cool Down: 16 Turns ( 6 Turns at Lv.11 )|
|Leader||ATK x4 when attacking with 4 of following orb types: Fire, Water, Wood, Light & Dark. All attribute cards ATK x1.5 when reaching 7 combos or above.|
What stands out about Volsung the most is this clause in his active skill: “Dragon & Attacker type cards ATK x0.5 for 1 turn.” We all know what a Kali board change does, but it’s not obvious how this debuff interacts with other mechanics in the game. Well, if you didn’t know already: yes, you can overwrite the debuff with a buff. Specifically elemental- and type-based damage enhances. It’s unclear if an active that only enhances damage will overwrite the debuff, but I don’t think those exist in the game anymore; at least not on anything important. One interesting case I can think of is how Thoth won’t overwrite a damage enhance if no teammates are bound, but I think it’s safe to say we don’t have to worry about edge cases like that.
Another interesting case would be using the debuff to make getting under damage absorb shields easier, but that seems like a pretty crazy workaround that isn’t worth the effort.
This debuff makes me wonder if GungHo will be experimenting with more drawback clauses on actives in the future. Having a drawback that you can workaround to knock a turn or two off the cooldown or add more power might be worth the trade-off and could promote new types of team synergies.
Overwriting the Debuff and the Blade Braves
In order to overcome Volsung’s drawback, a quick damage enhancer would be ideal to overwrite it whenever you used his active. When people think of quick damage enhancers, they immediately think of the Blade Braves (okay, they might if they actually remembered they existed). Once relegated to desperation sub status for the active-hungry Egypt 1 leaders, they at least now have another use. The two best for Volsung are Masamue and Claymore whom I’ll cover later in the post
However, considering the flexibility of Volsung’s leader skill, only needing to match four of five, how often will his active really be necessary? A way to deal with the debuff is still necessary as bad boards are a part of the game, but I’m not sure it requires using an otherwise suboptimal sub. Using Volsung as a sub is a little more complicated because it matters how often the team will need the board change and how much the debuff affects the team, but I still don’t think they’re auto-includes. A nice option, sure.
How Enhanced Hearts Affect Healing
Volsung’s leader skill may not have an HP or RCV multiplier, but his two enhanced heart awakenings translate into a small healing boost. Enhanced hearts boost healing the same way regular enhanced orbs boost damage: for any given heart match, you get 6% increased healing for each enhanced heart in it and an additional 5% for each enhanced heart awakening on your team. With two Volsungs giving you 80% enhanced heart orbs (20% skyfall chance per awakening), the team gets 34.4% more healing over time. What essentially amounts to a 1.35x RCV boost isn’t going to blow any minds, but it’s a much needed healing buff for a team that’s off to a bad start with 130 base RCV from two Volsungs.
While the awakenings may not be that impressive on a leader, it’s one of the few ways a sub can improve team healing. It’s the best way to do so passively because unlike auto-heal awakenings they scale with team RCV. In this case, a single Volsung will increase team healing by 17.2% on average.
The downside is, of course, that Volsung is a special descended boss. They’re expected to come with eight awakenings, meaning it’s not like we’re getting the enhanced heart awakenings for free. There’s a definite opportunity cost in those two slots being consumed by something that could go toward more offense or utility instead.
The Value of a Farmable Board Change
It was actually a huge surprise to see that only three farmable board change options were available on NA (not including single-element board changes and skill up fodder). It’s not like JP is all that much better off, only having Naraku and Jing Freecss on top of what we have. Thankfully, this drought should be alleviated soon with Linthia and eventually Gainaut, at least for rainbow teams.
So Volsung has a rare ability for a farmable, but does that make him any more desirable? I’m not sure it does. Outside of desperation for something to deal with something like Beelzebub’s full board poison (which at six turns cooldown could be relevant for first floor Beelzebubs in the Challenge Dungeons) Volsung will mainly be used on rainbow teams. Since NA finally got Fat Chocobo, most players have access to at least one rainbow board change already and they didn’t even need to enter a dungeon to get it. There’s also a strong chance that you rolled at least one LKali by the time you’re capable of clearing Volsung’s dungeon. For those which neither apply, but have a team that would want a poor man’s water LKali, I guess this is great news. It’s cute that GungHo is throwing us this bone, but there are many reasons why it isn’t as good as it might seem.
Uses as a Lead
Volsung isn’t the greatest of leads. The days of 36x leader skills with no other multipliers are slowly fading into obscurity. Perhaps the most relevant straight-36x leader left in the game is Bastet, but she has the advantage of being a combo-based leader instead of rainbow and having one of the best sub pools in the game. Volsung still has some play in him, but just don’t expect to get an endgame lead in return. I believe Zaerog∞, Hel and Sonia Gran are all more capable farmable leads.
Volsung has a pretty low multiplier so stacking as many water subs as possible is generally a good thing, but since this is a rainbow team, element coverage and active skill effectiveness also have to be weighed. As I don’t want to make this into a team building post as going over all possibilities would take forever, I’m just going to post a few subs that I personally found interesting. I’ve noted the subs that are affected by Volsung’s debuff with the appropriate type icon.
|See: Masamune. Her advantage over Masamune is against wood enemies where her element change to fire can help with the team’s elemental weakness, although I don’t see the team making very many fire TPAs to take advantage of it.|
|Nut isn’t amazing, but there’s something to be said about column/row generators making a given board easier to combo. Unlike random orb generators, RNG can’t screw you over by overwriting the orbs you don’t want to. There are a few other subs like this like Sadalmelik, Alfecca and Sharon, but I think Nut is the best.|
|It’s somewhat questionable whether a skyfall buff is good for a team like this. More water orbs are nice, but if they lower the activation chance it may not be worth it. That being said, Volsung’s leader skill is flexible enough where you should be activate most of the time even with the buff. The temptation to run a five TPA sub is strong.|
|Okay, this is really pushing it, but Leviathan may be one of the better farmable damage enhance options. If you’re willing to forgo the TPA, you can use any of his other uevos to cover any missing elements on your team. A poor option at best, but for some reason you find yourself running a Volsung with no other options, this can be your last ditch hope. While on the subject of farmables, uevo Plesios is also a decent option to cover wood and Mini Sun Quan also provides a delay.|
YouTube Clears of Note
Sadly, I could barely find any Volsung clears on YouTube. Part of that may be some results getting filtered out along with the Volsung Descended clears, but no matter the search terms and filtering options I used I couldn’t find much. The best clear I could find was for Challenge Dungeons 22 Lv9:
It’s unfortunate that there’s even less interest in Volsung than for Hel. Well, I don’t think anyone thought he was going to be an endgame leader anyways and this lack of content only reinforces that sentiment.
Uses as a Sub
Compared to LKali
So I’m going to assume most people are interested in Volsung not as a leader, but as a sub as a farmable LKali replacement. How does he compare? I don’t think we need to dig too deep here: he’s obviously inferior. He’s missing god or devil type for Awoken Ra, his debuff hits Awoken Sakuya and Kenshiro, he’s not light for Hathor, he’s not god type for U&Y, he’s not a healer for DQXQ, he doesn’t benefit from Durga’s damage enhance; the list goes on. It’s like GungHo designed him to be suboptimal on just about every rainbow team (which I’m sure is intentional). Hey, I guess his board change is one turn faster than LKali’s!
Despite that, he’s going to be the best option for a lot of players. Unfortunately, those same players probably can’t clear his dungeon let alone skill one up. Yes, there should be some hype around a farmable Kali replacement, but let’s temper expectations. This isn’t like Linthia or the recently revealed Gainaut that serve has poor substitutions for a 6-star GFE that happens to be the best monster in the game; LKali is something most players will roll after a year or so of playing if they spend their stones correctly. New players looking for an LKali alternative are probably better off using an orb refresh.
Any Specific Teams?
Volsung basically fits on any team LKali would. However, are there any teams that he fits particularly well on?
For U&Y, the positive is that Volsung is on-element. The orb enhance and TPA double threat are also a good match. It also helps that Volsung’s debuff will likely miss most of the team. His board change has slightly more upside than something like Famiel because a follow-on orb change will result in more water orbs on average. The bad news is that he doesn’t qualify for U&Y’s leader skill god buff. He’s also 90 cost which can be quite a burden for newer players.
Volsung is a great fit for Sonia Gran and is a good replacement and/or complement for the coveted DKali. He qualifies for her leader skill dragon boost and covers both water and fire. Perhaps the best news is that Sonia Gran’s active skill will overwrite the debuff meaning there’s no need to run a suboptimal sub to deal with the debuff. As Sonia Gran is a slightly better leader than Volsung, in my opinion, so those looking to challenge themselves with a fully farmable team then these two are a good start. However, the recently revealed Gainaut is also a dragon meaning Volsung’s place may soon be usurped.
And that’s all I care to think about for now. Feel free to make any suggestions on this or anything else I may have missed in the comments.
So I basically took the long route in finding what everyone already knew: there isn’t much to be excited about with Volsung. A farmable LKali alternative sounds nice, but the context matters. More than just being inferior to LKali, his debuff makes you run suboptimal subs you otherwise wouldn’t even consider. As a leader, his 36x is beyond outdated and he doesn’t have any killer subs to push him over the top. As such, I don’t foresee many players putting in the effort to skill up a Volsung. However, even though he isn’t great in the current meta, he still has a powerful effect with great stats and awakenings so it’s prudent to keep him in mind for the future. Who knows, maybe he can be a decent option for the new water MP Dragon (unlikely).